Lead Digital Developer
Posted on September 25, 2017
What are site links?
Site links are typically seen when Google returns results based on branded keywords. For instance, if you enter the name of a business and the Google algorithms looks favourably on the site, you’ll see something like the image below.
This is a great way for visitors that are searching your business name on Google to get a good sense of what content your website offers. Homepages don’t necessarily answer a visitor’s question, so getting them straight to the content within the site is helpful.
Site links are great to have. They add a sense of credibility to the site and should increase click-through-rates. Not only that, it has the added bonus of pushing competing results further down the page. Neat!
The bad news is that site links is not a feature you can switch on. Google is the one that decides how your site gets displayed in this manner. But what can you do to increase the chances that it does?
Before we even start to worry about site links, we need to make sure the business name when entered into Google is going to be the top organic search result. If your business name is unique, this is fairly straightforward to achieve. If your business name is more generic, you’ll have to work harder to get to the top (and stay there). Unfortunately, in some cases, for very generic names, it might not be realistic at all.
Let’s assume for now your business name is top of the results, but you’re not seeing short links. What should you do? Google lists the following as the best practices to improve the quality and chance of site links appearing in search.
Provide a clear structure for your website, using relevant internal links and anchor text that’s informative, compact, and avoids repetition.
Websites work best if they have a clear structure and hierarchy. It makes it easy for visitors to navigate and find what they need, while not losing their place within the site. Internal links on your own site indicate to Google what content you think is important and this will increase the chance of it appearing as a site link.
Avoid loading the site with repetitive copy or Google won’t know which two similar pages it might want to show as a site link.
Write unique and descriptive page titles that reflect the content of the page. Try not to be too flowery with the wording; keep it straightforward. ‘Helpful and Insightful articles’ for your blog page title might sound better, but Google is more likely to recognise ‘Blog section’. Google may recognise the first example to be a blog section, but why make it harder if your goal is to get that page appearing as a short link?
Allow Google to crawl and index important pages within your site.
Make sure you have your XML sitemap in place, and that it’s linked to the Google Search Console you should have associated with your website. This will help Google index the site.
If you need to remove a page from search completely, use a “noindex” robots meta tag on that page.
As mentioned, you have no control over what appears as a site link. If you want something to be hidden from this list, you’ll need to add some “noindex” meta data to the page’s code.
To conclude, getting your site listed in this way is not a guaranteed thing. It might never happen, or happen eventually, or happen straight away. All we can do is work and plan according to what Google suggests, and hope that the mercurial ways in which their algorithms function, works favourably upon our efforts. Good luck!